Gantz Blocks Confirmation of Cabinet Members Over Justice Minister Position

The Kahol Lavan chairman, who fears that his ministers will be fired after the elections, is asking for the justice minister position to be filled at the same time

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Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, last year.
Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, last year.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Israel's cabinet was unable to appoint a new communications minister as planned on Monday, as Kahol Lavan Chairman and Defense Minister Benny Gantz vetoed it unless a new justice minister was appointed as well.

The communications post is supposed to go to a member of his own party, Eitan Ginzburg. Currently, both that portfolio and the justice portfolio are held by acting ministers.

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Gantz’s veto also prevented the planned approval of two Likud lawmakers, Yuval Steinitz and Yoav Gallant, as water resources minister and higher education minister respectively.

Gantz’s office said that Kahol Lavan hadn’t approved the proposal circulated for a telephone vote, but has asked the cabinet secretary to bring the appointments of the communications and justice ministers “for immediate approval.”

In December, Gantz ousted Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel after the latter joined Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party. Since then, Gantz himself has served as acting minister, in addition to his regular job as defense minister.

But by law, an acting minister can’t serve more than three months, so Gantz must leave office on March 16.

Gantz is also serving as acting justice minister, after Avi Nissenkorn left that job to join Ron Huldai’s The Israelis party. His term there must end by April 1.

Steinitz and Gallant are currently serving in a temporary capacity in the ministries they should eventually be permanently appointed to. Both posts were previously held by Zeev Elkin, who also joined New Hope. Their terms expire on March 27.

Last week, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit told Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they must appoint permanent ministers to all the vacant posts, since an acting minister’s tenure cannot be extended. He also noted that the appointment of permanent ministers requires Knesset as well as cabinet approval.

Aside from Gantz, Steinitz and Gallant, the cabinet also has two other acting ministers. Itzik Shmuli, who replaced Meirav Cohen at the Social Equality Ministry, must end his term by April 8, while Chili Tropper, who replaced Izhar Shay as science minister, must end his term by April 12.

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